From the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association – Where Every Story Has Three Sides
By David Greene, LHENA Community Advisory Committee representative
Hello neighbors. My name is David Greene and I have been appointed to the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis study Community Advisory Committee to represent the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood. I will be contributing regular articles to the Wedge to keep all of us up-to-date on transit-related happenings in the Midtown Corridor.
The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis is an initiative led by Metro Transit that will examine improved transit options on either Lake Street or in the Midtown Greenway trench from the future Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) West Lake station on the west end to the Lake Street/Midtown Hiawatha LRT station on the east end. Metro Transit identified the corridor as a priority for transit service improvement as part of a larger regional effort to greatly improve our metro area transit system.
The corridor will be an important connector between two significant regional transit investments: the existing Hiawatha LRT (now renamed the Blue Line) and the proposed Southwest LRT, an extension of the Central Corridor/Green Line LRT from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. This is an important feature of the project as it will provide improved connections for those living near the corridor to get to jobs in the suburban employment centers of Bloomington and the southwest suburbs. In addition, the Midtown Corridor will continue to provide service within the corridor itself, supporting access to businesses and services up and down Lake Street. It will also provide better service for visitors to the Uptown area, potentially reducing traffic and parking congestion.
The alternatives analysis is one of the early steps to creating improved transit service. This study will look at two possible alignments for the improved service: Lake Street or the Midtown Greenway trench. It will look at four possible modes: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in a dedicated right-of-way, “arterial” BRT in mixed traffic with signal priority and other enhancements to provide improved travel times, Light Rail Transit (LRT) and a modern streetcar.
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Each of these alignments and modes has advantages and disadvantages and it is the responsibility of Metro Transit staff to sift through these tradeoffs. Metro Transit will take input from the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and other advisory committees to come to a decision on mode and alignment. Typically the CAC and similar advisory committees continue meeting after the alternatives analysis is completed to help guide design and implementation of the project. While the CAC is not itself a decision-making body, it provides important information and feedback to staff and elected officials to aid in their decision-making. It is our gateway into the process for this project.
We held our first meeting on Tuesday, February 19. Representatives from most of the neighborhoods along the corridor were there along with representatives from various businesses and non-profits. I was very encouraged by the wide variety of participants and the unique experiences each one brings to the table. Members have some specific goals they would like the project to achieve but are very open to seeing what the studies will tell us about how best to accomplish those goals.
In response to a question about the Greenway, project staff emphasized that none of the proposed options will disrupt the existing biking and walking path in the Greenway trench. Everyone at the meeting shared the goal of providing an integrated service that will enhance the existing bike/walk infrastructure already in place. Some other key goals identified by committee members are:
• Get communities of color, immigrants and other traditionally underrepresented groups deeply involved in the process
• Ensure smooth interfacing to other transit service to get people to and from areas outside the corridor
• Provide good connections to Lake Street businesses (this will be particularly important if a Greenway alignment is chosen)
• Ensure accessibility to those with physical challenges
The LHENA board and I want to engage all neighborhood residents as much as possible in this process. We would like to host at least two neighborhood update meetings this year. Metro Transit pledged to make staff available at neighborhood functions to do presentations and answer questions. Please do not hesitate to contact me about this project. I can provide what information I have and if I do not have it I will ask about it at the next CAC meeting. If you have ideas or comments on the project I will be happy to bring them to the CAC. You can reach me at 612.747.1982 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information you may consult the project web site at http://metrotransit.org/
The current schedule for the CAC has us meeting every other month. Our next meeting is April 23, 7 pm to 9 pm at the Cristo Rey Colin Powell Center, 2924 4th Avenue S. The public is invited to attend all CAC meetings and there is a public comment time built into the end of each meeting.
The Midtown Corridor project is an exciting opportunity for our neighborhood. I hope that you will help make it the best project it can possibly be.
David Greene lives in Lowry Hill East.